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[casi] News, 1-8/11/02 (3)

News, 1-8/11/02 (3)


*  Artist's brush with fame ensures he is never lacking for inspiration
*  Iraqi orchestra soldiers on
*  Tribal villages a wild card in Iraq's future
*  As the threat of war grows, archaeologists make plea to spare Iraq's
*  An unsettling quest for truth in Baghdad


*  Bar on Kurd MPs attending Iraq meet
*  Sounds of Silence


*  'The story of Iraq' on BBC
*  British Army Chiefs Told War on Iraq "Too Expensive"
*  Saddam out to kill dissidents in UK
*  Support for attack on Iraq falls to new low
*  Archbishop attacks war on Iraq
*  'War crimes' fear for British troops
*  Straw promises MPs Iraq debate and vote
*  War with Iraq 'would cost the UK 230,000 jobs'


by David Blair in Baghdad
Sydney Morning Herald, (from the London Daily Telegraph), 2nd November

Inside a tiny studio crowded with paintings of Saddam Hussein, the man with
the second most to lose from any United States onslaught on Iraq made the
finishing touches to yet another portrait of his hero.

Salam Abid has painted Saddam at least 300 times and never tires of
depicting those familiar features on canvas.

"He is a beautiful man with a beautiful face and a beautiful smile," said Mr
Abid, 47. He dabbed a loving brush over Saddam's countenance, setting a row
of perfect white teeth in a beaming grin.

Working from a studio in central Baghdad, he has turned out many of the
official portraits of Saddam that adorn countless street corners across

If the US and Britain succeed in ousting Saddam, however, Mr Abid risks
losing his livelihood. The fall of a despot may inflict penury on the
despot's official painter. Demand for Saddam portraits may not outlast his

While professing undying loyalty to his "beloved" leader, the thought of
life after Saddam has crossed Mr Abid's mind.

"I am an artist who also paints flowers," he said. "I paint anyone who comes
here and asks me. I do not only paint Saddam."

Mr Abid prefers not to dwell on such thoughts. Instead, he proudly described
his contribution to Saddam's personality cult.

The artist claimed credit for the portraits of Saddam that glower over the
entrance to Abu Ghraib prison, the largest and most notorious jail in Iraq.
He is especially proud of another picture that hangs inside a presidential
palace in Baghdad.

When he was commissioned to produce that work in 1998, Mr Abid was allowed
an audience with his leader. He was told to wait on a particular Baghdad
street corner at 4am.

A car with black-tinted windows appeared at the rendezvous and whisked him
inside a palace. Mr Abid waited for a few hours and was about to start a
sumptuous breakfast when he was called into the presence of his leader.

"I kissed him four times," he said. "I kissed him on the cheeks and also on
the shoulders because he is a great man.

"I was very afraid because it was the first time I have met Saddam.

"He talked with me very gently. He said, 'I am very pleased to see you. We
Iraqis are all one family. This palace is not a palace for me. It is a house
for all Iraqi people. If any Iraqi comes here, he is welcome."'

Iraqi street corners display a wide variety of Saddam iconography. He is
portrayed variously as resolute soldier, firm Bedouin chieftain and relaxed
man of the people, with an open-neck shirt and an easy smile. Mr Abid
specialises in the friendly and laid-back version of Saddam. His latest
portraits have Saddam smiling in a cream suit and laughing in a dark suit.

Not all Iraqis share the painter's enthusiasm for their leader, however. One
day, Mr Abid may suffer the ultimate artistic humiliation. His works could
join countless others on the mother of all bonfires.

by Caroline Hawley
BBC, 4th November

They play from photocopied music sheet, they have lost many of their
players, but members of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra say that, even
with the threat of renewed conflict, the show must go on.

"Sanctions have affected us all in many ways," says 39-year-old cellist,
Omar al-Sheikh, who works as an engineer by day.

"There are problems with the availability of instruments and of spare parts.
One of my strings broke and I couldn't find a replacement."

But the conductor, Abdel Razzak Al-Azzawi, makes light of these "minor"
inconveniences, insisting that "life has to continue."

Al-Azzawi, who studied at the Royal Military School of Music in Britain, has
found solace in music from both personal tragedy and Iraq's political

He performed a major concert a week after he lost his two young children in
an Iranian missile attack in 1995.

"The biggest problem for the orchestra is that we lost some good performers
who left for Syria or Jordan or other places to find a better life and
better opportunities," he says.

"That can affect the balance of the whole orchestra."

The 45-member Iraqi National Orchestra now has only one oboist left, but it
still rehearses three times a week and is currently performing Mozart, Haydn
and one of Al-Azzawi's own compositions in central Baghdad.

Dressed in immaculate black tie, they play to an auditorium only half full,
although the tickets cost the equivalent of just 50 cents.

Al-Azzawi says the 50-year-old orchestra has only stopped playing once - for
two months during the Gulf war of 1991.

But it has not performed abroad since a concert in Jordan in the early

"Invite me to England," says Al-Azzawi. "We're ready to go whenever we're

Annie Mankonian, a 20-year old violinist who plays with an instrument her
father gave her when she was six, can just remember the Iraqi musical scene
before sanctions were imposed.

"Teachers came from England, France, and Russia," she says. "Conductors came
from abroad to help us. Now that's rare."

But Al-Azzawi dismisses the difficulties, and concerns about the possibility
of a new war.

"It's hard for everyone," he says. "But we must continue working, rehearsing
and giving concerts. We mustn't stop."

by E.A. Torriero
The State, from Chicago Tribune, 5th November

TARASHA, Iraq - KRT NEWSFEATURES: As chief of this tiny tribal village,
Nazar Kareem Hameed settles conflicts among people who travel for miles to
seek his wisdom.

Brothers come for counsel in disputes about land and water. Grooms seek
advice on arguments with prospective brides. Farmers ask for handouts to
resolve squabbles over debts.

As the Iraqi government steps up its anti-America propaganda efforts, it
portrays millions of people in hundreds of scattered tribes as "combat
cells," armed to the teeth and ready to battle American soldiers.

But a visit to this expanse of scorched earth 50 miles from Baghdad paints a
starkly different picture. Farmers, mostly unarmed, are concerned more about
pressing daily quarrels than about a potential war with America.

"I don't think about war, and they don't think about war," said Hameed, 44,
sitting cross legged on thin cushions. "I think about my people, and they
think about feeding their families."

Just last week, Ezzat Ibrahim, the right-hand man to Iraq's President Saddam
Hussein, told foreign reporters that tribesmen are gearing up to be loyal
guerrillas and militias.

"Shepherds are a combat cell. The people working the land are a combat
cell," he said.

Hameed, however, whose forefathers have presided over this region for more
than a century, reports no mobilization among his Al-Azza tribal men or in
any of the neighboring tribes.

Few farmers have weapons in their houses, save for rusting shotguns used to
shoot predators, he said. While women, children and elderly men in big
cities spent some of the summer months training for urban warfare, Hameed
said no courses were offered here. And while city dwellers stock up on extra
food and money, Hameed's people aren't bothering.

When it's time to fight, Hameed said, someone will make the hour's drive
from the nearest big town, Samarra, and bring him the news. That's because
there is just one telephone at a school in the village, and usually no one
is there to answer it.

"If our president tells us to fight, we have a plan," Hameed said, adding
that people will hop into passing cars and report to a depot in Samarra to
get government-issued weapons. "Then we will defend our land and fight."

Dating back thousands of years and fiercely independent, tribes are an
important part of Iraqi history.

In the early 1900s, tribesmen helped drive back foreign invaders with planks
riveted to long handled shovels.

But in the last 80 years, Iraqi tribes have stayed mostly far from the fray,
even as Iraq was immersed in war with Iran in the 1980s and later with the
U.S.-led coalition in the gulf war. They supplied men to fight in the Iraqi
army but mostly remained on their farms in a defensive posture.

But in 1991, when Shiites attempted to rebel against Hussein at the end of
the gulf war, tribal militias joined with Hussein's fighters to brutally
quell the revolt. And in recent years, Hussein has made overtures of bribes
and money to keep the tribes in his fold.

In Afghanistan, tribes played a major role as U.S. troops enlisted the help
of some warlords in ousting the ruling Taliban.

Iraqi tribal fighters, however, would hardly be a match for the American
military. They would play a far lesser role in a conflict than the Iraqi
army, Hussein's Revolutionary Guard and his Baath Party loyalists.

Still, tribes could be a wild card in a post-Hussein Iraq, Western experts
said. How long and how deeply the tribes might oppose a new regime would be
a good indicator of how the rest of this religiously and socially divided
nation might react.

"There is more evidence that they would be a nuisance than a potent force,"
said a Western diplomat who has contacts with some major tribes. "Still,
whoever rules Iraq has to make peace with them and get them in the fold."

A few miles from this impoverished village, regional tribal leader Riadth
Safa Baha looked out over the land where people representing about 400
tribes live for miles around his modern mansion on the high banks of the
Tigris River. Baha is the leader of the Al Sheik tribe, which has 20,000
members in five neighboring provinces.

While he admires the acumen of neighboring tribal leader Hameed, he disputed
his assessment of local battle preparedness.

"Houses are stocked with weapons," Baha said. "Let America be aware that
tribes all over Iraq are ready to fight them."

Hameed, who like his father and grandfather before him greets supplicants
day and night at his dusty farm of grapes and apples, said the immediate
needs of his tribe must come first.

In recent months, Hameed used a gift of 500,000 dinars - roughly $250 - from
Hussein's government to take care of individuals who earn less than $3 per
month. Reed-thin and of modest demeanor, Hameed gladly dispenses the

"The gift was not for me, but for my people," he said, handing out Korean
cigarettes to his visitors.

While he is considered by his people as one of the wisest men around, Hameed
is not about to offer his advice on the weapons inspections dispute between
Hussein and the Bush administration.

"That is beyond me," he said. "In those matters, my president is more wise
than me. He will find the perfect solution."

by Louise Jury
The Independent, 7th November

The names evoke ancient kingdoms past, the empires of Babylon and Assyria
from the times of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.

Most of the palaces and temples and mosques of those ancient civilisations
crumbled many centuries ago. But something between 10,000 and 100,000
archaeological sites hold the enduring remains.

They are, of course, in modern-day Iraq. And, as the United States prepares
for war, an international band of curators and historians anxious not to
repeat the damage inflicted on Iraqi treasures during the Gulf War 11 years
ago are appealing to the American government to take the historic sites into

Specialists concerned about potential threats to the thousands of
archaeological ruins and architectural monuments scattered throughout Iraq
are supplying maps and other information to the American Defence Department.

And the initiative, co-ordinated by Arthur Houghton, a former antiquities
curator at the J Paul Getty Museum, aims to highlight the most important
with the hope that the military might just be able to give them a miss.

"Based on the last Desert Storm, if a battle plan involved an invasion from
Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, there would certainly be a likelihood of emplacement
or trenching in sites," John Malcolm Russell, an American archaeologist told
The Art newspaper.

"In southern Iraq, the highest ground is often on top of archaeological
sites. If you have bulldozers creating earthworks on these sites, that's
going to destroy things."

The threat is very real. Many treasures lie close to air bases or oil
refineries or laboratories that were targeted in the Gulf War.

The Kerbala Shia shrine to Imam al-Hussein, the most renowned of Iraq's
sacred Islamic attractions, lies near a chemical weapons plant and missile
range that were bombed in 1991. Ur, Iraq's most famous site and perhaps the
earliest city in the world, is near a major air base that was also attacked.
At Basra al-Qurna, a gnarled old tree, known as Adam's tree, stands on the
reputed site of the Garden of Eden. A chemical weapons plant stands nearby.

Helen McDonald, of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, based at
Cambridge University, said that last time the Iraqis had tried to move a
great deal of their most important objects out into stores in the
countryside. They have already begun to do so again.

"But some things are immovable ­ such as huge stones. If a bomb hits a
museum or something, that would be it," she said.

The consequence is the potential obliteration of generation after generation
of history stretching back to 4,000 years before Christ.

"The Near East in general, including Iraq, is one of the first areas to be
settled by agricultural communities, one of the first areas to have
civilisations with cities and writing and complicated structures like
temples," Ms McDonald said.

"People talk about Egypt but there were lots of similar but different things
going on in Mesopotamia. If people go to the British Museum and see the
Assyrian reliefs ­ they come from places in Iraq. And there are still
reliefs like that in the National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad.

"The British School of Archaeology in Iraq has written [about this]. They
wrote to the Foreign Office during the Gulf War to express concern, not just
on the humanitarian grounds but the effects that it would have on the

It is not only bombing that is a danger. Charles Tripp, of the School of
Oriental and African Studies in London, warned that in the wake of the Gulf
War, sanctions had inadvertently caused as much damage to the archaeological
sites of Iraq as direct attack.

The conditions of poverty had led to much looting of archaeological sites
and site museums, which often contained significant finds even after the
best items were removed to Baghdad. Numerous finds have turned up on the art
market in the West. "There is a lot of temptation in a destitute country to
rip something out that has a saleable value in the West," Dr Tripp said.

American scholars are pointing to the Hague Convention of 1954, which
prohibits the targeting of cultural and religious sites in war, to further
their cause with the American government.

Washington never ratified the accord but there were efforts during the Gulf
War to avoid cultural monuments ­ although the experts feared that American
commanders did not have the archaeological information they needed to know
which sites to avoid.

Britain signed the convention but did not ratify it so is not legally
binding. However, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said it did abide by
international statutes, including Article 53 of the 1st Additional Protocol
to the Geneva Convention, that prohibited acts of hostility against historic
monuments, artworks and places of worship. "Obviously we do our utmost to
honour our international obligations," she said.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it could not discuss the situation in
Iraq. The official British line remains that we are not preparing for
conflict. But, in general terms, British forces attempt to be sensitive to
cultural sites, the spokesman said.

"In the targeting process, places of historical, religious or cultural
significance are always taken into consideration as is their vicinity to
legitimate military targets. The process is kept under constant review."

The irony is that it is the British who helped encourage an Iraqi interest
in its history and it has been British scholars, such as Max Mallowan, the
husband of Agatha Christie, who have helped research many of the sites.

Dr Tripp said: "From the time the state was founded by the British in the
early 1920s, there was a very determined effort to develop something of an
Iraqi identity by impressing upon them the incredible richness of the land
they lived in."

Saddam Hussein had gone on to use the past glories of the country to help
build his nation, encouraging the people of the north to revel in the
glories of Ninevah and those of the south to acknowledge the great history
of the city of Ur.

Dr Tripp added a grim prediction. He said: "Old Mesopotamia was the birth of
civilisation. Clearly what might happen there is quite ghastly."

by Mark Dawidziak
Plain Dealer, 7th November

Reporter Sam Kiley visits an Iraqi research center where, according to the
United States, Saddam Hussein is developing "weapons of mass destruction."
This is an American lie, the journalist is told, and he may enter any
building at the site.

Kiley takes the Iraqi officials at their word and attempts to enter a
building that looks suspicious to him. He immediately is herded over to
other journalists on a sanctioned tour conducted, Kiley says, "like it's a
school outing."

When he asks if the center's physics department includes nuclear physics, a
scientist answers, "I don't know what you mean by nuclear physics." When he
tries to look down a corridor, he's physically restrained and told to rejoin
the group.

You begin to understand the frustration expressed by United Nations weapons
inspectors. You can go anywhere you like, but not there. You can ask
anything you wish, but not that.

This is the unsettling pattern that emerges from "Truth and Lies in
Baghdad," a "Frontline/ World" report that will air at 9 tonight on WEAO
Channel 49 and at 10 on WVIZ Channel 25. With President Bush making his case
against Iraq, Kiley sets out to investigate claims about Saddam's weapons
and reports that his regime beheads women as part of a campaign of terror.

Those who believe Bush is overstating the case against Saddam's regime will
not be comforted by Kiley's report. The journalist finds no weapons of mass
destruction, it is true, but the futility of his search is in itself

In trying to deny Kiley access to information, the Iraqi officials provide a
disturbing glimpse of a country in the iron grip of terror and propaganda.
This propaganda would dismiss PBS, Kiley and "Frontline" as mere agents of
Western powers and Zionist leaders, yet, again and again, the most
incendiary comments are made by people who are provided by the government to
make Saddam look good.

When Kiley asks about public beheadings of women, a director at the Ministry
of Religious Affairs says, "These stories were all fabricated . . . all the
lies of America." If so, they are lies believed by his own people. Assumed
to be the will of the government, the beheadings are spoken of with approval
by Iraqis voicing approval of Saddam. Confirming the reports of
eyewitnesses, they refer to these executions as common knowledge.

When Kiley asks about claims that economic sanctions are hurting hospitals
in Iraq, doctors tell him such shortages are a thing of the past. When one
doctor says drugs are in short supply, Kiley is stopped from verifying this
at the hospital's pharmacy.

This is the truth he found in Baghdad, and he didn't have long to find it.
His three-week stay was cut to 10 days when the government decided it didn't
like the questions he was asking.


Bahrain Tribune, 4th November

TEHRAN (Reuters): Iran has turned down a request by Kurdish legislators to
attend a regional parliament in northern Iraq on the grounds their
participation would fuel tensions with its old foe, a parliamentary source
said yesterday.

Iran's Foreign Ministry judged the trip "could be taken as interference in
Iraq's internal affairs and Iraqi officials have adopted negative and
threatening reactions in similar cases in the past," the source said. Iran
opposes any US-led military action against its western neighbour, while
advising Iraq to avert regional chaos by obeying United Nations resolutions
on disarmament.

"Iran has emphasised the territorial integrity of Iraq and since the
developments in northern Iraq are to a large extent linked with American
regional policies, any attendance of Iranian deputies would be interpreted
as taking sides with such policies," the source cited the Foreign Ministry
as saying.

Iraq's Kurds reopened their regional parliament in October, aiming to stake
a claim for autonomy from Baghdad should US military might topple Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. Iran has voiced its opposition to the formation of
an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq, fearing that it could spur
riots among its Kurdish minorities demanding the same privilege.

"Disintegration of Iraq and the formation of an autonomous Kurdish state in
the north of that country has always been opposed by Iran and is against our
national security and interest," the Foreign Ministry had stressed, the
source said.

"Participation of Kurdish MPs in that parliament would provide credit to
this process, which contravenes our national interest," he added.

by Leela Jacinto
ABC News, 6th November

Nov. 6 ‹ In the high mountains and plains of northern Iraq, a region above
which U.S jets enforce the Kurdish "no-fly" zone, an ancient, minority
Christian community still speaks the language once spoken by Jesus Christ.

Called the Assyrians, they are one of the world's oldest Christian
communities, and scholars believe the Aramaic language they speak today is a
dialect of the language Jesus of Nazareth and his early disciples spoke.

In the Christian villages and hamlets dotting the northern enclave, historic
churches and monasteries today conduct their services in classical Aramaic,
presenting a picture of a people and their culture untouched by time.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Linguists warn that the Aramaic language is in its death throes, battered by
centuries of persecution and marginalization by a range of conquerors from
Persian armies and the Ottoman Turks to Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime.

And these days, while the Bush administration makes repeated calls for a
"regime change" in Iraq, the talk in Assyrian households across the world is
getting increasingly urgent as a community that has preserved its culture
through the centuries braces for another milestone in their long, often
tormented history.

"Our greatest fear if there is a regime change in Iraq is if there will be a
substitution of Saddam Hussein's tyranny for a new tyranny," says Ronald
Michael, president of the Assyrian American League, an Illinois-based
organization representing the Assyrian community in the United States.

Human rights groups say the Assyrians ‹ like the Kurds ‹ have suffered under
Saddam's systematic attempts to "Arabize" the north, a process that includes
driving ethnic minorities from their lands and seizing some of their
properties, especially in the strategic, oil-rich northern region bordering
the Kurdish enclave.

"The Iraqi government has also forced ethnic minorities such as the
Assyrians, the Kurds and the Turkomen to sign 'national correction forms'
that require them to renounce their ethnic identities and declare themselves
to be Arabs," says Hania Mufti of Human Rights Watch. "In a way, it is a
form of ethnic cleansing by clearing an area of its ethnic minorities."

Unlike the Shiite Muslim majority concentrated in southern Iraq and the
empowered Sunni Muslims primarily based around Baghdad, the Kurds, Assyrians
and Turkomen comprise Iraq's non-Arab populations ‹ a group whose loyalties
have always been a cause for Saddam's concern.

Through centuries of conquests as well as forced and voluntary migrations,
the Assyrian community has been plagued by the politics of numbers.

Assyrians define themselves as a broad category of Christian groups speaking
Aramaic ‹ or Syriac, as it is sometimes known ‹ including followers of the
Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the
East, among others.

But scholars such as Naby Eden, an Assyrian-American specialist on
minorities in the Middle East, say there have been attempts on the part of
several Middle Eastern governments to categorize Christian groups by their
churches in an attempt to break up an ethnic category along religious lines.

Not surprisingly, reliable figures for the number of Assyrians in the world
today are hard to come by. In the Middle East, Assyrians are spread across
Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, where rights groups say they live as small,
often discriminated-against minorities under governments that are largely
unsympathetic to their religious and cultural aspirations.

But an estimated 4 million Assyrians live in the United States, Europe and
Australia today, in a steadily growing diaspora that dates back to the 1915
massacres of Armenians and Assyrians in the Middle East by the Ottomans.

In northern Iraq, where an estimated 1 million Assyrians still live in towns
and villages, the situation slowly improved when the northern enclave was
established after the 1991 Gulf War, and the Kurds were allowed to build an
autonomous region free from Saddam's control.

In the current regional Kurdish parliament, there are five seats reserved
for the Assyrian community, four of which are occupied by the ADM (Assyrian
Democratic Movement). And where Aramaic was once banned by Saddam, today the
language is taught in about 35 schools in the northern autonomous zone.

But while the bridging of Assyrian and Kurdish interests in northern Iraq
has been wobbly at best and troubled at worst, with Washington's renewed
calls for political change in Iraq, the country's Christian minority has
serious fears for the future.

"We are in a critical stage today," says Edward Odisho, a linguist at
Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and an Iraqi Assyrian who fled
Saddam's Iraq in 1980. "We have the Arabs on one side and the Kurds on the
other. And although we have good relations with our Kurdish brothers in
northern Iraq, unfortunately, now the Kurds are behaving in the role of a
big brother."

Experts fear that in the event of a collapse of Saddam's regime in Baghdad ‹
a common enemy for the Kurds and the Assyrians ‹ historic differences
between the two groups could resurface.

And one of the greatest causes of concern is the festering issue of land
ownership in the oil rich north.

"There are outstanding issues of Assyrian villages and lands, which were
vacated under Baghdad's forced repatriations during the 1970s and '80s,"
says Mufti. "Those issues have not been resolved when the Kurdish
authorities took over and they are a bone of contention between the two

Experts warn that in the event of a war, control for the northern Iraqi city
of Kirkuk ‹ currently under Baghdad's control ‹ is a particularly troubling
pressure point, which is being closely watched by neighboring Turkey.

Earlier this month, in a run-up to last weekend's Turkish general elections,
nationalist Turkish politicians and senior generals threatened to seize
Kirkuk and Mosul in the event of war, citing Ottoman-era claims to the two
oil-rich northern Iraqi cities.

Some Iraqi Assyrians are also concerned that the Kurdish parties might seek
an independent state if the United States attacks Iraq.

"If the Kurds use the chaos of the war to try to grab land and if they are
given a federal state, then we want our own state," says Michael, "because
they [the Kurdish parties] have not proven themselves to be democratic."

For their part, the leaders of the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) and the
PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), the two leading Kurdish parties, have
maintained that their aim is not to set up an independent government or
entity, but an Iraqi federation made up of an Arab region and a Kurdish

Some experts concede that Assyrian concerns about the democratic credentials
of the KDP and the PUK are not unfounded.

Over the past few years, Assyrian groups in northern Iraq have recorded a
number of attacks against the community, primarily by militant Kurdish
Islamic groups, including the Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam), a group
suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Although the KDP and the PUK have outlawed the Jund al-Islam following a
series of assassinations and armed clashes with the PUK, many Assyrian
community leaders say the two Kurdish nationalist parties fail to administer
justice in cases of attacks against the Christian population.

"The nationalist parties don't want to lose the support of the Kurdish
people," says Michael. "If the KDP is in power, we expect justice to be
served. But the KDP turns a blind eye to these attacks out of fear of an
Islamic backlash."

But by far the biggest complaint, according to Mufti, is the Assyrian fear
of being "lumped together with the Kurds."

Particularly egregious from the Assyrian point of view are recent Kurdish
attempts to classify Iraq's Christians as "Kurdish Christians."

"They started calling us 'Kurdish Christian,'" says Odisho. "Then we should
call them 'Assyrian Muslims.'"

For a community that has had a minority status for centuries under different
empires and has dispersed across the world, identity is a critical issue ‹
for Assyrians living in and outside the Middle East.

With approximately 4 million Assyrians living in the West and speedily
assimilating the cultures of their adopted lands, experts say a shared
language can play the role of an emotional state, binding members in the
absence of a geographic concentration.

By all accounts, the continuation of the Aramaic language has been a
linguistic feat, significant credit for which goes to the Assyrian exile
communities who have refused to lose their mother tongue.

"Aramaic has retained its place as a form of cultural identity because of
the importance of the language to the people," says Stuart Creason of the
University of Chicago. "Within history, there are very few examples of
languages that are spoken for this long a period of time, maintained by the

But Creason warns that the very future of Aramaic is at stake. "I would call
Aramaic an endangered language," he says. "It's a language whose future
existence is uncertain, and it could die out within a few generations
because of the political situation."

History has shown that the fate of languages is inextricably linked with the
political power of the people who speak it. And Iraqi Assyrians hope their
future will ring to the sounds of their ancient language.


Gulf News, Dubai, 2nd November

Starting November 8, BBC World Service will broadcast a new two-part series
presented by Fergus Nicoll, the BBC's former correspondent in Iraq, a press
release, a copy of which was sent to Gulf News, said yesterday.

The Story of Iraq explores the country's modern history and the path that
has led it to the present crisis, the press release said.

Modern Iraq, with its current borders, is only 80 years old. It was carved
out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War to be
ruled under a British Mandate; it became independent in 1932 and a republic
after the revolution of 1958. But since 1968 the country has been governed
by the Ba'ath Party with Saddam Hussain in the driving seat.

In 1980 Saddam launched a war against Iran that he thought he would win
within months. It lasted eight years and brought Iraq to its knees.
Throughout this war, he was supported by the West and the U.S. in
particular, who saw Iran as a threat.

Western powers did not complain when Saddam used chemical weapons against
the Iranians and the Kurds in Iraq. It was only when he launched another war
- against Kuwait - that he became the bitter enemy of the West that he is

Tehran Times, 3rd November

LONDON -- Finance Minister Gordon Brown has told the Defense Ministry that
Britain, Washington's main supporter of possible military in Iraq, cannot
afford to send troops to the Persian Gulf, a London-based daily said

Brown has ordered military planners to come up with new strategies after it
worked out that the contribution to a U.S.-led war would cost three billion
pounds (4.69 billion dollars, 4.71 billion euros), the Daily Telegraph said,
quoting senior defense sources.

This figure is about half a billion pounds more than the cost of the
military action in 1991 in the last Persian Gulf War, led by the U.S.
President George W. Bush's father and namesake, the daily added.

"Defense chiefs are furious over the suggestion that they might have to cut
the force numbers they believe they need to fight a war in order to fit into
a treasury-imposed straitjacket," the front-page article said.

Half of the treasury's three billion pound figure was for its estimate of
the cost of deploying an armored division to Kuwait to oppose Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard, according to the same

"They have told the planners at PJHQ (Permanent Joint Headquarters) to come
away and come up with a plan that does not involve deploying ground forces,"
a senior defense source told the paper.

"People at the very top are extremely angry about all this," another source
said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"Instead of working out what you need to do the job and then costing it,
everything has to be costed first and the job tailored to fit the money," it

Military planners put the cost of a British contribution to an operation
that lasts more than a year and involves a post-war occupation force as high
as 15 billion pounds, according to the daily.

"The treasury said we can't afford it," a senior defense source told AFP.

"Well that will look great for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the only
allied leader who has actually been asked to send forces, the source added.

by Con Coughlin
The Age (Australia), 3rd November

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has told his security officials to kill Iraqi
opposition leaders based in Britain to prevent them from forming an
alternative government in the event of a military attack to remove his

According to British and American intelligence officials, he is also said to
have asked Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi - who has a network of
"sleeper" agents based in Britain and Europe - to help him target Iraqi

Details of the decree, transmitted from President Saddam's palace in Baghdad
to Iraqi security officials in Europe and the Middle East last week, have
been intercepted by British officials. The instructions have also been
picked up by CIA spy satellites and by agents in the Middle East.

British intelligence officials have told Scotland Yard's Special Branch to
improve security for leaders of the main Iraqi opposition groups, most of
whom are based in London.

The headquarters of the Iraqi National Congress in Kensington is already
heavily protected by bomb-proof doors and windows. Last week, Special Branch
detectives were taking steps to improve protection for families of
opposition leaders.


by Alan Travis and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
The Guardian, 5th November

Support for military action against Iraq has slumped to its lowest since
Tony Blair first seriously raised the prospect of war in August, according
to the results of this week's Guardian/ICM tracker poll.

Approval for a military attack on Iraq has fallen six points, from 38% to
32%, in the past week demonstrating that support melts away as the prospect
of war appears to recede.

Opposition to the war has, however, increased slightly over the past week -
up one point to 41%. The main swing in opinion has been the move from those
who support military action to those who are sceptical. The proportion of
those who replied to ICM that they "don't know" whether military action is
justified is up from 21% to 27%.

The weekly Guardian/ICM tracker poll, which started on August 23, shows a
longer term trend of support for military action settling down at around one
in three of the electorate, with approval peaking at 42% in the aftermath of
the Bali nightclub bombing.

Opposition to the war started at 50% but has settled at around 40%, which it
has maintained for three weeks.

The gender gap continues. Women split 43% to 27% against war, while opinion
among men is more evenly divided, with 39% opposed to military action and
38% in favour.

While backing for the war remains "soft", this may be a lull before the
storm as the UN is expected to agree its resolution on Iraq later this week.


· ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,003 adults aged over by telephone
from November 1-3. Interviews were conducted across the country and the
results weighted to the profile of all adults.

by Ben Leapman
London Evening Standard, 6th November

An attack on Iraq by the West would amount to little more than
"colonialism", driven by a desire to secure oil supplies, the next
Archbishop of Canterbury claimed today.

In his most outspoken statement yet, Dr Rowan Williams warned that such a
conflict could spread across the Middle East and trigger nuclear retaliation
by Israel, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.

The intervention threatened to bring a new low to relations between the
Church of England and No 10.

It came as President Bush's aides put the finishing touches on a new draft
United Nations resolution against Iraq, and as a poll showed the British
public increasingly sceptical about the need for war.

In his first public comments since his predecessor Dr George Carey retired
last week, Dr Williams set out to counter claims that anti-war campaigners
were similar to the politicians who appeased Hitler in the Thirties. In an
article in the Daily Telegraph, he dismissed the comparison used by
ministers including Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as "facile point scoring".

He claimed that Arab nations were in a state of "panic" at the prospect of a
US-led strike on Iraq.

He continued: "The moral issue is whether we can properly say that our
account of what the region needs takes precedence of what its inhabitants
overall seem to say.

"If the answer is that it does, there is the classic moral challenge to
colonialism of various kinds - we are not the best arbiters of the interests
of others when we have interests of our own at stake. (We are keenly aware
of the matter of oil.)"

He warned that a war could "risk the lives of hundreds of thousands in a
region that could rapidly spiral down into chaos". And he said: "The exact
calculation of what weaponry might be employed by a cornered Saddam Hussein
is uncertain; and so is the retaliation that might then be provoked in the
region from its sole nuclear power, Israel."


by Michael Smith
Daily Telegraph, 6th November

The Government is concerned that British servicemen and women involved in
any war against Iraq could find themselves facing action from the
International Criminal Court, defence sources said yesterday.

This week's attack, by a CIA Predator drone, on a car containing al-Qa'eda
terrorists in Yemen has served only to intensify concerns within the
Cabinet, which extend to Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary. They
are both lawyers by training, as is Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, another
key player in the debate. "Lawyer Blair and lawyer Hoon are really worried
about this now," one defence source said.

Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General, and Harriet Harman, Solicitor General,
have warned the Government that if it attacked Iraq without the backing of a
UN Resolution action then it could find itself hauled before the ICC.

But defence sources said there was just as much concern over the possibility
that even with a resolution in place individual servicemen might find
themselves subject to action.

One suggested that if a British reconnaissance aircraft passed information
to a US ground attack aircraft that subsequently attacked civilians, the
British servicemen might be held responsible.

They would be subject to the ICC, although the pilot of the US aircraft
would not, since America did not recognise the court.

Despite extensive efforts by the British Government and the Foreign Office
in particular, the US administration is opposed to any recognition of the

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of Defence Staff, who expressed concerns
over the Government's decision to sign up to the ICC, also warned against
the US willingness to act like "a 21st century high-tech posse".

The attack in Yemen, with the CIA apparently acting as judge, jury and
executioner, was typical of the type of activity over which Admiral Boyce
expressed concern, defence sources said. He advocated drawing "red lines"
beyond which British troops operating alongside US forces would not go.

He also warned ministers that under the ICC commanders might face a choice
between being accused of war crimes or changing rules of engagement to the
point where the enemy could be certain of striking first.

The MoD said that any British serviceman or women involved in any alleged
offence brought before the ICC would have to be tried in Britain and would
therefore be subject to the normal laws of the land.

"We obviously agree to share information and intelligence with the
Americans," a spokesman said. "We don't necessarily have any control over
how it is used.

"Nor does it follow that because US servicemen are not subject to the ICC
they are allowed to go out and act with impunity. Any US serviceman accused
of war crimes would be liable to prosecution in the US courts.",,1-472670,00.html

The Times, 7th November

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, today promised MPs a full debate and vote
on the situation in Iraq.

Robin Cook, Leader of the House, is expected to announce the date for the
debate next Thursday. Previously MPs have only debated Iraq on a technical
motion to adjourn the House.

During a Commons statement on the new UN resolution on Iraq, the Foreign
Secretary was quizzed by Michael Ancram, his Tory counterpart, on whether
there would be an early opportunity to debate the matter.

Mr Straw told him: "You asked whether I am making arrangements for a full
debate in Government time - the answer to that is yes.

"And we hope that this will be on a substantive resolution." Responding to
the announcement, Alan Beith, for Liberal Democrats, said: "Can I welcome
the statement you have just made about a substantive motion for debate which
would lead to a vote in the Commons on this matter."

Later, Mr Straw said: "I'm not going to speculate about the circumstances in
which military action may or may not operate but what I would say ... is
that there will be the fullest possible discussion in the House as things

"For example, I'm arranging with the Chief Whip and the Leader of the House
for there to be an early debate on a substantive resolution so that the
House can have full opportunity to debate the matter."

He added: "I'm strongly in favour of this House playing a full role whenever
there's an issue of military action being taken by forces on behalf of this

Mr Straw also said that President Saddam Hussein must comply with the tough
weapons inspection regime set out in the new draft United Nations resolution
or "face the serious consequences."

The Anglo-American draft was circulated to all members of the UN Security
Council yesterday.  "The Council is now discussing the text and will vote on
it shortly. A vote could come as early as tomorrow night," Mr Straw told

The new draft made clear that Iraq had been and remained "in material breach
of its obligations under previous Security Council resolutions", Mr Straw

He went on: "Second, in operative paragraph two, the text affords Iraq a
final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations."

After detailing the tight timetable Saddam would be obliged to meet under
the new resolution, Mr Straw told MPs: "The choice for Saddam Hussein is to
comply with the UN or face the serious consequences."

The Iraqi situation was discussed at this morning's full meeting of the
Cabinet.  Mr Straw said Britain wanted to see unanimous Security Council
support for the resolution, to put maximum pressure on Saddam.

The Security Council's only Arab member, Syria, is understood to be
expressing reservations about the deal, though diplomats at the UN have
still not ruled out bringing it on board.

The concerns of France and Russia are now thought to involve only textual
details, and it looks likely that they will give their approval within the
next few days.

by Philip Thornton
The Independent, 8th November

War with Iraq would cost 230,000 UK jobs as companies cut costs and slashed
investment budgets, an economic forecasting unit warned yesterday.

A "short, sharp conflict" in Iraq would see economic growth tumble to just
1.6 per cent, Experian Business Strategies said, compared with its central
forecast of 2.5 per cent. But a separate report from the Economist
Intelligence Unit said there would only be a "modest" impact on the world
economy from a quick victory.

Neil Blake, Experian's research director, said the price of oil could rocket
to nearly $40 (£25) a barrel, leading to higher costs for industry. "The
result [is] reduced output growth and layoffs right across manufacturing and
the private services industries.

Unemployment would surge by 100,000 to 1.08 million, he said. The 230,000
figure includes 130,000 of new jobs that would have been created without the
outbreak of war.

London would be the worst affected, suffering 47,000 job cuts against a
non-war scenario of 10,000 jobs created.

But the EIU said while oil prices would peak at $35 to $40 it believed the
oil producers' cartel Opec would increase its output to fill the shortfall.

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